Imagine being a farmer who makes his living growing one or two staple crops. Perhaps your thing is corn. Come harvest time, do you cut down each plant at the ground and sell the entire thing, stalk and all, to processors? Probably not. Processors are interested only in certain parts of the harvested plant. What remains is waste. A similar situation exists in the cannabis industry.
Cannabis plants come in a wide selection of varieties, or strains if you will. The two most well-known are marijuana and hemp. But as it turns out, processors and product manufacturers are not necessarily interested in the entire plant.
A processor specializing in full-spectrum CBD oil would be interested mainly in hemp buds, though plant leaves may also be part of the equation. All the biomass that processor requires is fed into CBD extraction equipment in order to get all the cannabinoids, terpenes, etc. that the biomass contains.
For medical and recreational uses, the bud is the most valuable part of the cannabis plant. Also known as the flower, the bud is where you find the good stuff. It is where you find trichomes rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Recreational marijuana users generally don’t make any bones about smoking cannabis flower. But that same flower is used by processors to extract THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Extraction offers the opportunity to produce potent concentrates that can be subsequently used to produce everything from gummies to vape cartridges.
Even in the non-THC world, cannabis is valuable as a source of CBD. Houston’s CedarStoneIndustry, a company that designs and builds CBD extraction equipment, says that the CBD industry is just as profitable as its marijuana counterpart. CBD oil continues to be one of the hottest products in the health and well-being space.
The Rest of the Plant
It is no secret that processors and product manufacturers derive most of the value from cannabis buds. That is where the money is. But other parts of the plant still have value. Processors and growers alike often show interest in:
- Cannabis Leaves – On any plant, the leaves serve the purpose of protecting flowers. In the cannabis world, plant leaves also contain some trichomes. The trichomes are not as abundant as they are in flowers, but there are enough there to make leaves worthwhile.
- Cannabis Root – Here in the West, we do not spend a lot of time worrying about cannabis root. However, Eastern medicine has a long history of using all sorts of roots in traditional health and wellness products. Western processors are now starting to look at the roots as well.
- Cannabis Seeds – Cannabis seeds are utilized for two purposes. First is growing. While most cannabis plants grown in industrial settings are clones, there are still growers that prefer starting new plants from seeds. Processors are known to buy seeds they can sell as animal products. Cannabis seeds are actually pretty high in protein.
There is a lot more to a typical cannabis plant than just its flower. The question is whether the rest of the material offers any practical uses. Whether biomass is harvested for smoking or CBD extraction, the main value is found in the plant’s flowers. But the other parts of the plant do not have to be ignored.
Perhaps there will come a day when not a single part of the cannabis plant is wasted. While it is unlikely, it’s worth shooting for. Getting the full value out of each and every cannabis plant would make growing and processing more attractive.